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California Native Plants for Dry Shade:

When landscaping unirrigated shady areas, such as under oak trees, you will enjoy a much greater success level by choosing the appropriate plant material. Here is a list of various drought-tolerant plants to select from to add just the right touch to that dark spot. It is more practical to use mixed accent plantings in understories rather than a single ground cover in most cases. Shade gardening lends itself well to different aesthetic situations. Use the light and shadow patterns to create other effects. Consider using grey-green foliage in dark areas to lighten up the area and add depth.***Remember, when planting under and around mature oaks, it is best to leave the area inside the dripline (under the canopy) free of vegetation and covered with the natural leaf mulch. This shady spot can be an excellent opportunity to add a statue, birdbath, or other garden art to your landscape.


  • Tree of Life Nursery’s Shade Mix (misc. species)

Perennial groundcovers

Dudleya species Liveforevers

Heuchera species Coral bells

Iris ‘Pacific Coast Hybrids’ California Iris hybrids

Diplacus (Mimulus) Monkeyflower

Monardella villosa Coyote mint

Sisyrinchium bellum Blue-eyed grass

Solidago californica California goldenrod

Epilobium (Zauschneria) species California fuchsia


Elymus (Leymus) condensatus Giant wild rye

Melica imperfecta Coast range melic

Muhlenbergia rigens Deergrass

Stipa (Nassella) species Needlegrass


Arctostaphylos ‘Canyon Sparkles’ Canyon Sparkles manzanita

Arctostaphylos ‘Point Reyes’ Point Reyes manzanita

Arctostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’ Howard McMinn manzanita

Carpenteria californica Bush anemone

Ceanothus ‘Point Reyes’ Point Reyes lilac

Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point’ Yankee Point lilac

Gambelia (Galvezia) speciosa Island snapdragon

Heteromeles arbutifolia Toyon

Holodiscus discolor Ocean spray

Berberis (Mahonia)  ‘Golden Abundance’ Hybrid Oregon grape

Philadelphus lewisii Mock orange

Ribes species Currants and gooseberries

Frangula (Rhamnus) californica Coffeeberry

Rhus integrifolia Lemonade berry

Rosa californica Wild rose

Trichostema lanatum Wooly blue curls

Shady With Katie